|Ravens rely on rookies to anchor depleted offensive line|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 08 October 2007 12:01|
The Ravens (3-2) finished off a 9-7 win over San Francisco on Sunday with three rookies on their offensive front. The two veterans of the group, left guard Jason Brown and backup center Chris Chester, began the season with a combined three years experience.
``I look in front of me and I'm like, 'I've been in this league longer than these guys all together,''' quarterback Steve McNair said.
The Ravens entered the game without left tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe). Then Ogden's backup, Adam Terry, injured his left ankle. Then center Mike Flynn hurt his knee.
So Baltimore assembled an offensive front that included first-year players Jared Gaither, Marshal Yanda and Ben Grubbs. Chester was inserted at center, even though he was expected to serve as the second tight end because Todd Heap and Daniel Wilcox missed the game with injuries.
The patchwork line cleared the way for several fine runs by Willis McGahee and did not permit a sack. And the same cast might be at it again this Sunday against the winless St. Louis Rams.
``We'll have to see how (Ogden) is progressing - that will be a key factor for us - and see exactly where Adam is at the end of the week,'' coach Brian Billick said Monday. ``We'll fill in where we can. But there's only so much latitude with what we have right now. It could involve making a roster move, if need be.''
Ogden has not played since the season opener, and it's unlikely Terry will rebound quickly from an injury that put him on crutches Sunday night. That's not good news for an offense that has produced five touchdowns in five games, and only one in the last 10 quarters.
Baltimore's season-long struggle inside the 20 resurfaced against the 49ers: In five plays in the red zone, the Ravens totaled 5 yards.
``On the offense we're doing a number of different things well that allow us to be productive, to chew up the clock,'' Billick said. ``But you've got to come away with a touchdown. ... Countless hours are being put into it in terms of the evaluation and what we can do.''
Fortunately for the Ravens, three field goals was enough to secure a victory in San Francisco.
``If nine points will do it the next two times we go to the West Coast in San Diego and Seattle, great. Super. I'll take it,'' Billick said.
The young but determined offensive line deserves some of the credit, but as usual with the Ravens, the defense made the difference. Facing former teammate Trent Dilfer, Baltimore limited the 49ers to six first downs and 163 yards in offense.
``This defense is very prideful. The last couple weeks, a couple things have happened that have cut to the core of that,'' Billick said. ``We're going to need that out of our defense the next two weeks.''
After facing the Rams, Baltimore faces Buffalo on the road before being off on Oct. 28.